Monday, September 10, 2007

Angel in the Parking Lot

As I helped my dad into my stepmom's car to leave the hospital we made fists and I said, "You fight this thing." We punched knuckles, and I turned to walk inside to the ATM for parking money. As I turned my first tears came to me. I sniffled and held back the tide as I walked through the lobby, thinking how many times I'd seen others this way and what I must look like. I made it back out to the parking lot, whimpering under my breath. I almost wanted others to hear me, but I dared not make a scene. As I got to my car a cheapy, clunky charm from a toy cought my eye. It was an angel. For a moment I considered the child who may have lost it as I selfishly snatched it up for my own comfort. As I sat in my car blowing my nose and regaining composure I heard a horn beep but did not consider it. Suddenly a large African American woman appeared outside my window asking plaintively and forcefully, "Are you going to move that car?!"

I wanted to roll down the window and say, "Sorry, I just found out my dad has cancer and I'm a little overwhelmed, SO BACK OFF A MINUTE LADY!" Instead I waived politely and smiled. Really the comody of the moment was too rich and it made me laugh a bit. Besides, she obviously had a need to be there too. I'd like to say that I prayed for her and her needs, but I didn't. I suppose I could still do that. (Pause for prayer - hey, if you are reading this why don't you pray for her too!)

So, then I ended up going the wrong way on 285, getting stuck in traffic on I-75, and then getting stuck on Hwy 41 as I tried to get around it. So I pulled in to a gas station to get some caffein, as I had only had three hours sleep in the hospital the night prior. While in the bathroom a grungy guy with a big tatoo asks to borrow my cell phone. Begrudgingly I say yes, but then he pulls out a note book paper page full of numbers. After the first one fell through I gave him a dollar for the pay phone. All the while I am wrestling with the fact that I am tired and grumpy but none worse for wear by helping him. This is where the rubber hits the rode. This is where Jesus says, "when you did this to the least of my family you did it to me." Did I pass the test?

Probably not. I could have given him a ride somewhere. I could have let him make some more calls. Truth is that I was a little scared of who he was calling and what might be done with my phone number. I was also frustrated over the drive and in need of seeing my kids who I had not seen much that week. So, I fell short of the glory of the Lord. I'm glad to know there is forgiveness for such things, but its stuff like this that actually troubles me as much or more than some of the more global justice issues. I live in fear and do not trust my fellow human being, and I don't think I am alone in that. So what ever happened to God not giving us a spirit of fear but of confidence? Easier said than done when you have a family to be responsible for. Good Samaritan I ain't. Trouble is, I don't know if I have it in me to be one. I think I know how, but I lack the will. And isn't that the cruxt of it all? We know that we are all in this together. We know that human suffering can be aleviated, but for the natural disasters and diseases uncured.

We just lack the will to give, to do more than survive, to truly live as Christ calls us to. I am hopeful that I might come closer to that way of living, and often I believe that I am. One thing is for sure, if I can't change me I sure as heck can't change anyone or anything else. Maybe the angels will help. If nothing else, I bet they get agood laugh while they watch. Or maybe there are no angels, just children dropping toys and others taking them as symbols of divine hope. Then again, maybe those things are one in the same.
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